We live in a visual world. Science has established that what we see is more enduring than what we hear or read so we're flooded with images of food, cars, drinks, fashion, furnishings and other products and services.
But few images are more powerful than the corporate logo. Unfortunately, this is a visual sales tool that is often neglected by businesses. There is no better way to establish "brand-name" recognition than to use a skillfully designed logo splashed on everything connected with your business. Whether a logo is a unique rendering of the company name (Coca-Cola), a letter from the name (the golden arches of McDonald's), an appealing image (the Gerber baby) or a simple but dynamic design (Nike swoosh), it holds the promise of becoming your most valuable business asset.
The marketing power of a skillfully crafted logo has been so clearly recognized among the world's largest corporations that they have paid logo designers as much as $250,000 for one.
That's far too much money for most businesses to pay, but not to worry. A little creativity, a local designer, and a clear understanding of your company's mission can produce results every bit as effective as the most costly effort.
Here are five tips that will help you to develop a powerful logo and get the most for your money:
Keep it simple. The best logos are easy to recognize and remember. Since consumers are overloaded with information, cluttered and busy images aren't likely to register in their memory banks. Simplicity counts: One of the newest and easiest to remember is Target's red dot in the middle of a red circle. One of the oldest classics is General Motors' logo made up simply of the company's initials.
Hire professionals. Modern desktop computers and easy-to-use design software offer the temptation to ask your computer-savvy nephew or a staff member with no graphic training to whip up a logo. Resist that temptation at all costs. There is a lot more to graphic design than the ability to click a mouse. The design of your logo is too important to cut corners. Shop around for a professional in your price range who understands your industry. The American Institute of Graphic Arts has a website with information on how to locate and work with a professional designer if you don't have one.
Stay involved. Although you may not know anything about graphic design, don't walk away from the process of developing one of your company's most important marketing projects. Communicate the key elements of your company's mission, products, or services. Then let the designer translate that into a suitable visual image. Don't over-manage, but don't abandon the project either.
Resist change. Once you have a perfect logo, don't fiddle with it. A logo's effectiveness stems from repetition of the same image. Even small changes in design or color can weaken the visual image already registered in the consumer's mind.
Turn it loose. You can't just stick your logo on your website letterhead and expect it to turn your company into a world-beater. Make certain the logo appears everywhere possible -- stationery, business cards, vehicles, windows, and every advertisement in every visual medium that you use. The savvy use of a well-designed logo speaks loudly for your company.
Once you're set on a logo, protect it by registering with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
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